Activated in 1942, the regiment participated in the campaigns of Sicily, Salerno, Normandy and the Battle of the Bulge during WWII. During the 1960s, the 505th one of the units who played a role in Operation Power Pack in the Dominican Republic and later assisted local authorities during the civil disturbances which occurred within the United States. The regiment was sent to the Republic of Vietnam in 1968 during the Vietnam War. After the Vietnam War the 505th participated in various military operations. Among them were Operation Just Cause, Operation Desert Shield, Operation Restore Hope and Operation Enduring Freedom. The regiment's most recent engagement has been in Operation Iraqi Freedom.
In the American airborne landings in Normandy, the 505th actually jumped before its scheduled "h-hour", thus earning their motto "H-minus". Upon completing operations in the Ste. Mere-Eglise area, the unit was awarded the Presidential Unit Citation. In September 1944, the unit then participated in Operation Market Garden, in which the regiment received a second Presidential Unit Citation. the war. By the end of the war, the 505th was awarded two Distinguished Unit Citations, the French fourragère, the Netherlands Military Order of William, and the Belgium fourragère. Following the German surrender, the regiment served as part of the Allied occupation force in Berlin.
After World War II, the 505th returned to Fort Bragg, North Carolina. In 1947 the separate 555th Parachute Infantry Battalion, the Army's only all-black Airborne unit, was merged into the 82nd when it was reflagged as the 3rd Battalion, 505 PIR. In June 1957, the regiment was reorganized and redesignated as the 505th Infantry and relieved from assignment to the 82nd Airborne Division. This marked the end of the era of infantry regiments as tactical units and the beginning of the Pentomic era, in which regimental numbers were used for the purpose of perpetuating lineages and honors.
Effective 1 September 1957 the lineage of Company A, 505 PIR was reorganized and redesignated as HHC, 1st Airborne Battle Group, 505th Infantry, and remained assigned to the 82nd Airborne Division (organic elements concurrently constituted and activated). It was relieved on 15 January 1959 from assignment to the 82nd Airborne Division and assigned to the 8th Infantry Division in Germany as part of a rotation that saw both 1-505th and 1-504th depart the 82nd. When the Pentomic era ended, 1-504th and 1-505th were reflagged respectively as 1st and 2nd Battalions (Airborne), 509th Infantry, elements of the 1st Brigade (Airborne), 8th Infantry Division on 1 April 1963. The colors of 1-505th returned to the 82nd, where they were reorganized and redesignated on 25 May 1964 as the 1st Battalion (Airborne), 505th Infantry, an element of the 3rd Brigade.
On April 30, 1965, the 3rd Brigade was alerted for combat as part of "Operation Power Pack", the defense of the Dominican Republic against communist insurgents. Within 18 hours, the first C-130 landed at San Isidro Airfield, Dominican Republic. After two months of bitter fighting, the 3rd Brigade returned to Fort Bragg, North Carolina.
The infantry battalions assigned to the 3rd Brigade during its Viet Nam tour were 1-505th, 2-505th, and 1-508th.
After 22 months of fighting, the Brigade had helped secure the region south of the DMZ and redeployed to Fort Bragg, North Carolina in December 1969, the only brigade of the 82d Airborne Division to participate in the Vietnam conflict.
Following its return from Vietnam, the 3rd Brigade against participated in controlling civil disturbances, deploying to Washington, DC, in May 1971 to help local and federal officials in their efforts to keep demonstrators from disrupting the daily operations of the government. In August 1980, the brigade's 1st Battalion (Airborne), 505th Infantry was alerted and deployed to conduct civil disturbance duty at Fort Indiantown Gap, Pennsylvania during the Cuban refugee internment.
The 1st Battalion (Airborne), 505th Infantry deployed to the Middle East in March 1982 as the first United States member of the multi-National Forces and Observers (MFO) rotation in the Sinai. 1-505 returned home in August 1982 from the most important peacekeeping mission in history.
In October 1983, the 3d Brigade deployed to the country of Grenada to evacuate US citizens and establish a US-aligned government during Operation Urgent Fury. In December 1989, Company A, 3rd Battalion (Airborne), 505th Infantry participated in Operation Just Cause and assisted in overthrowing Manuel Noriega as the leader of Panama. This marked the first combat jump for the 505th since World War II.
In August 1990, the 505th was airlifted to Saudi Arabia as a part of Operation Desert Shield The ground phase of operation Desert Storm began February 25, 1991 and saw the Brigade move north to conduct combat operations through the Euphrates River Valley. After eight months, the Brigade had helped secure U.S. objectives and redeployed to Fort Bragg in April 1991.
In March 1994 the 505th Parachute Infantry Regiment was tasked to serve as part of the Multi-National Forces and observers in the Sinai Peninsula. TF 4-505th, bearing the lineage of the WW II-era Company D, 505PIR, was activated on November 4, 1994 and was made up of 88% National Guard and Reserve soldiers from 32 different states as well as 12% active duty soldiers. The 4-505th deployed to the Sinai from January 1995 through July 1995.
In September 1994, the 505th Parachute Infantry Regiment along with the rest of the 82d Airborne Division was alerted as part of Operation Restore Democracy. The 505th Parachute Infantry Regiment was scheduled to make combat parachute jumps, supposedly in order to help oust the military-led dictatorship and restore the democratically-elected president, although Haiti had never had democracy in any form. The 82d's first wave was in the air, with the 505th loaded on aircraft awaiting takeoff when the Haitian military dictators, upon learning the 82d was on the way, agreed to step down and averted the invasions.
In December 1994, the 505th Parachute Infantry Regiment participated in Operation Restore Hope. The 2d Battalion, 505th Parachute Infantry Regiment departed Fort Bragg for Panama in order to restore order against the upsurge of the Cuban refugees. The Battalion participated in the safegurading of the Cuban Refugees and the active patrolling in and around the refugee camps.
Upon arrival, soldiers of the 505th PIR established a command and control environment for the senior leaders of the unit to work effectively in, making decisions that were vital to the restoration of law and order as well as being able to efficiently provide needed medical attention to the citizens of New Orleans.
Subordinate units were directed to maintain different portions of the city; these units were tasked with guarding key infrastructure, stopping the looting and providing aid to the civilian population. One of the key buildings being guarded was the badly damaged Louisiana Superdome, guarded by the 3rd battalion of the 505th PIR.
Emergency responders, police and other assets were given to COL Owens to manage and direct as necessary. COL Owens and his staff directed soldiers and civilians to recover the remains of the dead, provide water rescues, provide vehicle detoxification sites and patrol the street for security purposes. Army engineers were also sent to begin the cleanup of the area.
During the operation, a second, weaker hurricane was heading to the same area that Katrina had just battered. COL Owens ordered that all soldiers were to remain indoors during the storm, except for key personnel who needed to be outside. Engineers and commanders waited nervously, sending and receiving reports on whether the already badly damaged levies would hold. When the storm had ended, the levies had held, to everyone’s surprise.
The operation lasted for approximately thirty days, then the soldiers of the 505th returned to Fort Bragg, NC.
The soldiers of the 505th PIR were awarded the Humanitarian Service Medal for service in Operation Hurricane Katrina.
The 505th PIR distinctive unit crest is, according to the U.S Army Institute of Heraldry
"A Silver color metal and enamel device 1 5/16 inches (3.33 cm) in height overall, consisting of a shield blazoned: Argent, four bendlets Azure surmounted by a winged Black panther salient inverted Proper, that part on the bendlets fimbriated of the first. On a wreath Argent and Azure, a winged arrowhead point down Gules, in front of a cloud Proper. Attached below the shield a Blue scroll turned Silver and inscribed "H-MINUS" in Silver."
The colors blue and white are used to symbolize Infantry. The black panther symbolizes stealth, speed and courage, all characteristics of a good parachutist. The wings are added to represent entry into combat via air, and the bendlets symbolize the unit's parachute drops into combat. The winged red arrowhead is used to represent the regiment's first combat attack in Sicily during World War II.
The official insignia is in fact not the insignia first designed by the men of the unit, which was simply a black panther on a shield, with the original motto, "Ready" inscribed below it. Unfortunately, the Institute of Heraldry refused to approve the crest known by the men of the WWII 505th and replaced it with the above-referenced insignia.